Since the NHL lockout in 2005, the QMJHL has put up relatively consistent showings at the NHL Entry Draft. While they still trail their CHL cousins to the left in both first-round talent and overall drafted players, the Q has had four players drafted in the first round in three of the five years, with five players hearing their names called early on in 2006. The sole outlier is 2008, when no QMJHL players were drafted in the first round.
It is still hard to tell whether the 2010 draft class will follow the recent trend or look a lot more like 2008. The QMJHL has a surefire first rounder in Brandon Gormley leading the way and three other candidates who could also hear their name called on Friday night. But as is often the case, the final third of the first round is muddled and depends just as much on individual teams preferences as it does on talent from any particular league.
1. Brandon Gormley, D
6’02, 190 lbs.
CS Ranking: 6th among NA Skaters
The de facto top prospect coming out of the QMJHL, Gormley is, in fact, one of the top 2010 eligibles in the entire draft. Playing a key role for the Moncton Wildcats in each of his two seasons, Gormley is coming off a QMJHL championship and an appearance at the Memorial Cup.
Poised is the best way to describe this 18-year-old defenseman. Always making the safe play in his own zone to effortlessly break up chances and rarely making a poor decision when contributing offensively, Gormley’s steady play is an integral part of Moncton’s success.
Though he is thought of as primarily a defense-first player, Gormley’s ability to read the play makes him a key part of the Wildcats power play as well. In 58 games, he scored nine goals, including six power play markers to finish with 43 points. He followed that up with 17 points in 21 playoff matches.
Kim Houston of the NHL’s Central Scouting described Gormley as a player with solid skills.
“He just makes great decisions with the puck. I’ve only ever seen him play one game where he was shaky at all and that was immediately before he left for the World Junior camp. His skill level and his intelligence on the ice are hard to beat.”
Already considered to be a strong candidate to play for Canada at the next World Juniors, it is easy to see why most believe Gormley will be making the jump to the NHL in the near future.
2. Stanislav Galiev, LW
Saint John Sea Dogs
6’01, 177 lbs.
CS Ranking: 20th among NA Skaters
Playing on a line with two 20-year-old NHL drafted players as a member of the top team in the QMJHL has to be one of the more fortunate situations for a rookie in his draft year. Already familiar with North America thanks to a season in the USHL where he won the Clark Cup as a member of the Indiana Ice, Galiev was hardly along for the ride playing beside Nick Petersen and 2010 QMJHL MVP Mike Hoffman.
Carrying his own weight, Galiev finished second among QMJHL rookies with 15 goals and 60 points in 67 games. In the postseason, his 19 points (eight of them being goals) in 21 games led all first-year players as Saint John made it all the way to the league final before bowing out to Moncton.
A talented puck handler, Galiev has a knack for finding the open man to set up a scoring opportunity. Elusive along the boards, the 18-year-old is hard to knock off the puck, thanks in part to his wide stance, although he would benefit from getting stronger. Already familiar with the demands of the North American game, Galiev has shown willingness for both the physical side of the game as well as helping out in his own zone, but he still needs to improve in both facets.
“He’s kind of one-dimensional,” said Houston. “He makes one nice move, but then what does he do the rest of the night? He doesn’t play away from the puck that well and in the defensive zone, you’re going to have to learn to a lot better than that to move on to the next level. He doesn’t work, I don’t see him working hard enough every shift. Every shift you’ve got to play and sometimes he’ll float through some shifts. I always notice when they have the puck and he seems to exert himself a little more.”
With a number of talented players in Saint John looking to move on, Galiev will be expected to take a big step forward in his upcoming season and help lead the team offensively.
3. Petr Straka, RW
6’01, 186 lbs.
CS Ranking: 23rd among NA Skaters
After hosting the Memorial Cup in 2009, the Rimouski Oceanic had to pay the price for their attempt to load up and make a run at the junior championship. With talented players like Caron, Cornet, Cormier and many others moving on either prior to the 2009-10 season or during the Christmas trading period, the Oceanic’s focus shifted to the next wave of young talent.
Leading that charge was rookie import Petr Straka. Joining a team in transition, Straka wasted little time in making an impact. In fact, the 18-year-old Czech winger scored two goals in just his second game in the QMJHL. Scoring goals is what Straka brings to the table and his 28 markers in 62 games led all rookies. Meanwhile, his 64 points placed him second on the Oceanic in scoring.
A speedy winger with great hands, Straka has learned plenty playing under Coach Clem Jodoin, especially how to round out his game and play effective hockey at both ends of the ice. Although he sometimes struggled with his consistency, the reigning QMJHL rookie of the year has a nose for the net and will only get better as he continues to develop and get stronger.
Houston weighed in by saying, “I like Straka a lot, I think he’s a smart, heady player, good solid skills, sees the ice well.”
4. Kirill Kabanov, LW
6’02, 175 lbs.
CS Ranking: 31st among NA Skaters
Much ink has been spilled on the saga of Kabanov this year. For a player who appeared in just 22 games, he certainly attracted his fair share of attention. His story has twisted from the incredulous into the absolutely bizarre, starting with a dispute on his status that required IIHF intervention and delayed his start, to a wrist injury that made him miss the majority of the season, and finishing with the end of the year that found the young Russian healthy, but with no team wanting him.
Originally touted as one of the top talents in the draft, Kabanov did show flashes of that ability in the games he did play, but for as many red lights as he has lit, there are an equal number of red flags. Although a strong showing at the NHL’s Scouting Combine had him saying all the right things to help repair his tarnished image, his separation from his agent shortly after the Combine once again plunges his status into question.
A speedy winger who plays the game with boatloads of energy and has the hands to make the puck dance, Kabanov’s game still needs plenty of work, especially in adding strength to match his enthusiasm on the ice as well as improving his play without the puck. After what is essentially a lost year developmentally, the upcoming season will be essential for any future success he might have.
5. Jakub Culek, LW
6’04, 195 lbs.
CS Ranking: 52nd among NA Skaters
A linemate of Straka, the pair played for the same team back in the Czech Republic before both joining the Rimouski Oceanic last summer. The bigger of the two, Culek may not have been as offensively dynamic as his countryman, but his 13 goals and 47 points in 63 games were certainly respectable totals.
A playmaker, Culek worked well alongside of the quicker Straka by constantly hitting him with passes that would eventually find themselves in the back of the net. Although he has imposing size and a solid skill set, Culek remains a work in progress in the offensive zone. As he gets stronger and more comfortable with the physical game, he’ll be able to assert himself on the ice more to make room both for himself and his teammates.
Already a dependable player at both ends of the ice, Culek could be one of the more intriguing players to come out of the QMJHL in 2010. If he can improve his skating and combine his natural physical tools with his hockey talent, he has all the makings of a solid prospect.
6. Michael Bournival, C
5’11, 178 lbs.
CS Ranking: 75th among NA Skaters
A hard-working forward, Bournival might have made a few more fans after an impressive showing at the NHL’s Scouting Combine. Showcasing his work ethic and physical dedication to the sport, Bournival’s name appeared frequently near the top on many of the tests. That same hard work is evident in his on-ice play, where the Shawinigan native will play whatever role is asked of him.
Exploding in his second year in the QMJHL, Bournival jumped from a 22-point showing in his rookie season to post 24 goals and 62 points in 58 games. With the Cataractes beginning to restock after coming within a game of the QMJHL championship in 2009, Bournival was asked to fill a much larger role and he accepted the increase with enthusiasm.
Possessing the ability to play in all three zones and a no-quit, win at any cost attitude, Bournival might not be the most talented player available, but his work ethic and dedication will help ensure that he becomes a viable NHL prospect.
7. Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, D
6’01, 181 lbs.
CS Ranking: 50th among NA Skaters
When defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon was dealt from Rouyn-Noranda to the Rimouski Oceanic midway through the 2008-09 season, the Huskies were losing an offensive punch from the blue line that had posted 147 points over the course of 202 regular-season and playoff games. Saying goodbye to such a presence on the back end was a blow to Rouyn-Noranda, but they found a suitable replacement inside their organization in the form of Gauthier-Leduc.
A rookie when Bourdon left the team, Gauthier-Leduc prospered with a larger in the second half of his freshman year, posting 14 points in 27 games after tallying just three points in the first 25 games of his QMJHL career. Entering the 2009-10 season, much as expected from the Quebec native and he delivered. Scoring 20 goals, including 10 with the man advantage, Gauthier-Leduc finished the year with 46 points in 68 games to lead all Rouyn-Noranda defensemen in scoring.
Strong on his skates and with excellent offensive vision, most believe that Gauthier-Leduc is just beginning to scratch the surface of his potential. With a strong shot from the point and great puck-moving ability, the Quebec native has solid size, but needs to be more assertive and continue to round out his game.
After filling the offensive void left behind by Bourdon’s departure, Gauthier-Leduc is following in the Philadelphia prospect’s footsteps in another way as well: the 18-year-old was dealt to the Rimouski Oceanic at the QMJHL draft and will suit up for them to start the 2010-11 season.
8. Marek Hrivik, LW
6’01, 185 lbs.
CS Ranking: 194th among NA Skaters
Originally overshadowed by his fellow import rookie with Moncton, it was Hrivik, not Kabanov who was catching the eyes of many scouts as the season went on. After going undrafted in 2009, the Slovakian winger opted to try his luck in the CHL and landed in a nearly perfect situation with the Moncton Wildcats.
Starting slowly, Hrivik’s comfort level in North America visibly grew as the season went on, and as a result, so did his responsibilities. Finishing with 26 goals and 55 points in 66 games, Hrivik was also a key contributor as the Wildcats went on to win the QMJHL championship. Finding chemistry alongside of Nicolas Deschamps and Randy Cameron, Hrivik was tied for third among QMJHL rookies in playoff scoring with 17 points in 21 postseason matches.
Talented offensively, Hrivik also showed a willingness to do the smaller things that help win hockey games including a crucial buy-in with Moncton’s defense-first system. With a quick shot and a nose for the net, the 19-year-old is a constant threat in the offensive zone, but needs to continue to work on his skating. Struggling at times with consistent effort, Hrivik is at his best when he engaging the opposition and using his body to create chances and protect the puck.
9. Louis Domingue, G
6’03, 183 lbs.
CS Ranking: 5th among NA Goalies
Beginning the year with the Moncton Wildcats, Domingue’s task was, in retrospect, near impossible. Asked to fill the void left behind when Nicola Riopel made the jump to pro, Domingue only had to step into the crease left behind by the 2009 QMJHL Player of the Year, who set league records before moving on.
Though Domingue played well early on, he soon struggled and when Riopel was made available in December by Philadelphia to return to the QMJHL for his over-age season, the 18-year-old found himself heading to the Quebec Remparts. All in all, the Mont St-Hilaire native saw action in 41 games with a 20-17 record and 2.68 GAA to go along with a .906 save percentage and three shutouts. Struggling in the playoffs, Domingue’s GAA rose to 4.35, while his save percentage dropped to .863.
Domingue plays a positional style, relying on his size to cover most of the net and always trying to remain square to the shooter. Although he has the skills to succeed, questions have been raised about his mental focus, both over the course of the entire 60 minutes of hockey as well as game-to-game. A strong puck-handler, he gets himself into trouble when he starts to do too much.
As Houston described, “He’s a big goalie, big target, plays his angles very well. I’m not sold on his movement. At the NHL level, the puck moves so fast. Big guy, angle goalie. If you’re shooting north/south, then great. If it’s going east/west, I think he has some trouble.”
10. Mathieu Corbeil, G
6’06, 192 lbs.
CS Ranking: 7th among NA Goalies
Playing for a team that finished in the league basement for the second year in a row and scored a league-low 171 goals adds up to a difficult year for goaltender Mathieu Corbeil. After cutting his teeth as a rookie in 2008-09, appearing in 24 games with a 3-14 record, Corbeil was handed the reins for 2009-10.
Starting off strongly, the 18-year-old even earned two Defensive Player of the Week awards for his play during the first half of November. But as the season wore on and the losses continued to mount, Corbeil’s play began to slip, leading the Mooseheads to acquire veteran Peter Delmas to help share the load. In total, Corbeil appeared in 50 games with an 8-39 record, a 3.83 GAA and a .883 save percentage.
Although on paper, Corbeil’s stat line doesn’t seem to merit the attention of NHL scouts, looking closer at his play reveals a promising netminder. For starters, there’s his size. At 6’6, the Montreal native naturally covers a large amount of the net. Coupling that with quickness between the pipes and an excellent glove hand and it is easy to see why Corbeil was invited to attend Hockey Canada’s goaltender camp this summer. Although his game still needs plenty of work, especially controlling rebounds and mentally bouncing back from a bad goal, Corbeil is a project who could pay big dividends for whichever team selects him.
Houston agreed and went on to say, “I really like his athleticism and his quickness, I think what he has to work on is his concentration and his focus. Situations like the game is on the line, let’s not let the next one in and let’s give the team a chance to get back into it. I think he has to be mentally tougher. I like his quickness and his lateral movement and he covers the lower half of the net pretty good.”
11. Sam Carrier, D
6’0, 186 lbs.
CS Ranking: 203rd among NA Skaters
After playing a complementary role with the Quebec Remparts in his rookie season, Carrier established himself with the Lewiston MAINEiacs in 2009-10. A key part of a young, developing team, Carrier was thrust into the role of a leader on an inexperienced blue line with his responsibilities only increasing after a mid-season trade saw veteran Eric Gelinas sent away.
Responding admirably to the challenge, Carrier led Lewiston defensemen with 10 goals and 42 points in 66 games, with five of those goals coming on the power play.
Although only average sized for a blueliner, Carrier doesn’t back down from a challenge and plays a strong game against the boards, although at times, he can be guilty of chasing the play rather than focusing on his position. Offensively, he has a heavy point shot that he can get away quickly with accuracy and he skates well, carrying the puck with confidence.
12. Michael Chaput, C
6’01, 188 lbs.
CS Ranking: 78th among NA Skaters
One of the top players for the Lewiston MAINEiacs as a 17/18-year-old in his first full season in the league, Chaput finished second on the team in scoring. With Lewiston making further moves in the offseason and their young roster expected to reach maturity in 2010-11, much is expected from both the MAINEiacs and the Montreal native in the upcoming year.
With 28 goals and 55 points in 68 games last season, the younger brother of Carolina prospect Stefan Chaput may be a bit more offensively savvy than his older sibling, but they share the ability to contribute at both ends of the ice. Though not overly physical and needing additional strength, Chaput showed a knack for sneaking through traffic and finding open ice. A solid skater, the pivot took the majority of Lewiston’s face-offs over the year and finished with 51 percent success rating.
13. Louis-Marc Aubry, C
6’4, 194 lbs.
CS Ranking: 87th among NA Skaters
Possessing imposing size, Aubry could be well on his way to becoming a pro prospect by simply filling out his frame. A solid two-way presence for the Montreal Junior, the Trois-Rivieres native has all the tools to dominate on the ice, he just needs to put it together.
With his 15 goals and 33 points in 66 games a modest improvement over his rookie season, much will be expected out of the 18-year-old next season, especially after Montreal has made a number of deals to improve their team and look to be shooting to be a contender.
Crashing the net and blocking shots with equal enthusiasm, Aubry might not have the skills to ever be a scoring forward, but the rest of the package is too enticing to ignore. The top faceoff man eligible in 2010 from the QMJHL, Aubry won over 53 percent of his puck drops.
14. Maxime Clermont, G
6’0, 200 lbs.
CS Ranking: 18th among NA Goalies
With three years experience and over 150 regular-season and playoff games experience under his belt, it is hard to believe that this is Clermont’s first year eligible for the draft. With an early birthday, the Montreal native has been the starting goaltender for the Gatineau Olympiques for the past two seasons after making his QMJHL debut back in the 2007-08 season.
Like Edmonton Oilers prospect Olivier Roy prior to the 2009 draft, Clermont was once an early favorite to be the top goaltender eligible in his age group, but over the past season has seen his stock lag behind other netminders. Appearing in 59 games in the 2009-10 season, Clermont posted a record of 24-31, while both lowering his GAA to 2.81 and raising his save percentage to .897, above the previous year’s effort. His four shutouts tied him for third in the league.
A solid goaltender, Clermont plays the angles well and shows a willingness to aggressively challenge opposing shooters. Controlling rebounds well and having a good glove, Clermont’s game will benefit as he gets quicker in the crease. Possessing good size, he has struggled at times tracking the puck, especially through traffic, another thing that he’ll need to improve upon.
The extra experience may not necessarily be a good thing, as Houston explained.
“Is he a little complacent now? There’s something missing there, I just really question where his head’s at. His skills are there, but I question his head.”
15. Adam Polasek, D
6’02, 187 lbs.
CS Ranking: Not ranked in Final CS Rankings (203rd at Midterm)
Skipped over in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, this solidly built Czech blueliner came to North America with the intention of garnering the big league’s attention. Immediately stepping into a big role with the Rocket, Polasek was, many nights, PEI’s best defenseman on the ice.
A two-way defender, his 13 goals and 41 points in 66 games led all rookie defensemen in scoring as well as all blueliners on his team. Willing to rush and able to handle the puck at high speeds, Polasek was a key part of the Rocket’s power play, where he showed a confidence with the puck and a hard, heavy shot.
Polasek was steady and dependable in his own end and he could quickly read the play and make moves to intercept. Strong on his skates, the 18-year-old has plenty of room to grow.
Houston likes the big Czech, saying “He’s a heady guy, he moves the puck well, he’s physical and has a little jam and pizzazz on the ice. He finishes his checks. His overall game is pretty solid.”
Konrad Abeltshauser, D – Halifax Mooseheads
Guillaume Asselin, RW – Chicoutimi Sagueneens
Matthew Bissonnette, C – Lewiston MAINEiacs
Jeremie Blain, D – Acadie-Bathurst Titan
Etienne Boutet, D – Rimouski Oceanic
Jonathan Brunelle, LW – Drummondville Voltigeurs
Morgan Ellis, D – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Alex Emond, C – Rimouski Oceanic
Brandon Hynes, RW – Victoriaville Tigres
Adam Janosik, D – Gatineau Olympiques
Stephen MacAuley, C – Saint John Sea Dogs